Djokovic practices on Australian Open court as visa troubles continue over 'false travel claim'
'If it is proven that there was false information given willingly or inadvertently, the full force will come down on him', immigration lawyer John Findley said.
If it is proven than Novak Djokovic falsely stated he had not travelled before his flight to Australia to defend his title in the Australian Open, it will be "fatal" for his visa case, an immigration lawyer has said.
On the Australian Travel Declaration form, filed on January 1, Djokovic said he had not travelled and would not do so for two weeks before his flight to Australia.
On the Travel Declaration Form, the answer of "no" was selected in response to the question asking about travel in the 14 days before arriving in Australia
The world number one men’s tennis player flew to Melbourne from Spain on January 4, but had appeared in photos posted to social media from Belgrade on Christmas Day.
Portuguese tennis reporter, Jose Morgado, tweeted the picture of Djokovic posing with the handball star Petar Djordjic.
John Findley, an Australian immigration lawyer, told ITV News that any evidence that emerges in The Australian Border Force's investigation that shows Djokovic falsely filled in the form will most likely lead to the re-cancelling of his visa.
"If it is proven, it is fatal for him, for his case," he said on Tuesday.
"If it is proven that there was false information given willingly or inadvertently, the full force will come down on him."
The latest twist in Djokovic's deportation furore comes after the Federal Circuit and Family Court quashed the decision to cancel his visa and ordered him to be released from immigration detention.
The top-ranked tennis star has since been seen on the show courts of Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open is held, for a practice session.
Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that the tennis star had not been given enough time to speak to his lawyers before the decision was made.
In his sworn affidavit to the court hearing, which overturned the decision to deport him from the country, Djokovic said he “authorised” his agent to submit the travel declaration form.
The 34-year-old Serbian told immigration officers that the form was then submitted to Tennis Australia in order to gain medical exemption.
Djokovic's fate will now be determined by Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, who has the power to cancel his visa and deport the tennis star ahead of the Australian Open, due to start in Melbourne on January 17.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Mr Hawke said: “As noted yesterday in the Federal Circuit and Family Court, minister Hawke is considering whether to cancel Mr Djokovic’s visa under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act. “In line with due process, minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter. As the issue is ongoing, for legal reasons it is inappropriate to comment further.”
If Mr Hawke exercises his personal power to re-cancel the visa, Djokovic could be barred from the country for three years, which could have a "huge effect on him personally and on his income", Mr Findley said.
Djokovic was asked if he had been treated fairly in his visa application saga
On Tuesday, Djokovic dodged questions about his treatment over his vaccine exemption as he was filmed in an underground car park on the way to practice at the Rod Lever Stadium in Melbourne.
His lawyers have said he was given a vaccine exemption to enter Australia because he contracted Covid-19 last month.
He landed in Australia with a medical exemption from the Victoria state government that was expected to shield him from the strict vaccination regulations in place.
Aerial footage captured the tennis star practising with his coaches at the Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, as the decision about his visa remained in the balance
But he was detained last week at an immigration facility in Melbourne after his visa was cancelled following scrutiny of the medical exemption he had secured.
The men's professional tennis tour believes the ongoing controversy over Djokovic's visa application has been "damaging on all fronts".
"In travelling to Melbourne, it's clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations," the ATP said in a statement. "The series of events leading to Monday's court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak's well-being and preparation for the Australian Open."
The diplomatic row around Djokovic, who has repeatedly refused to say whether he has received the coronavirus vaccine, has sharpened the focus on the level of vaccination in the sport of tennis.
Five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray was asked about Djokovic's situation after his victory over qualifier Viktor Durasovic at the Sydney Tennis classic.
"I think there are still a few questions that need to be answered around the isolation and stuff, which I’m sure we’ll hear from him in the next few days," he said.
The ATP- which said it was encouraged that 97% of the top 100 players are vaccinated leading into the Australian Open- urged all players to get jabbed if safe to do so.
The ATP added: "More broadly, ATP continues to strongly recommend vaccination for all players on the ATP Tour, which we believe is essential for our sport to navigate the pandemic. "This is based on scientific evidence supporting the health benefits provided and to comply with global travel regulations, which we anticipate will become stricter over time."